Judgment (known as Judge Eyes in Japan) is a Yakuza spin-off where you play as a detective instead of a criminal, and it kicks ass. You are Takayuki Yagami, a PI with a troubled past and a cool leather jacket, who works out of an office in Kamurocho—the seedy Tokyo red light district fans of the Yakuza series will be more than familiar with. It's functionally the same as the Yakuza games, but the new perspective on the city gives it a distinctive edge.
Yet despite the entire mainline Yakuza series now being playable on PC, Judgment (which was released on PS4 in Japan in 2018) still, criminally, isn't. Back in May, Sega said there were no plans to bring the game, or its upcoming sequel Lost Judgment, to PC 'at this time', which isn't a firm no, but still not what I wanna hear. We need Judgment, and we need it now. Here's why.
I love Yagami. He's a lawman, but he's far from squeaky clean. His foster father was a powerful yakuza patriarch, and his business partner and best buddy Kaito was once a lieutenant in the Tojo Clan's Matsugane family. So he has some connections to Kamurocho's criminal underworld, which gives the story some thematic ties to the Yakuza series. If you love Yakuza, you'll feel right at home.
For the most part, Yagami is on the side of the law. But he plays fast and loose with it when he needs to, which makes him more than just a boring, straight-up cop. And damn, what a fit. The slim stonewash jeans, the crisp white tee, the black biker jacket, the wallet chain. Okay, maybe not the wallet chain. Yagami is probably one of the coolest looking videogame characters, like, ever?
And his friendship with Kaito, an enthusiastic ex-yakuza with a heart of gold and fists of steel, is incredibly endearing. The pair couldn't be more different—Yagami is thoughtful and methodical, and Kaito is a chaotic live wire. But they work together brilliantly, and there's genuine warmth between them. Kaito's shirt says everything you need to know about him. I mean, look at it.
Kamurocho is as vibrant and detailed as ever, but you interact with it in different ways—piloting a drone, snapping photos of people, tailing suspects, and hunting for clues in the environment. The investigation minigames aren't that great, but being a detective in this familiar setting is a nice twist. The place feels brand new, even though you've walked these streets a thousand times.
Judgment sticks closely to the Yakuza formula: wandering around a vividly realised urban Japanese setting, fighting people, eating ramen in restaurants, taking on absurd sidequests, and getting embroiled in a dense, complex plot. But it does all of this extremely well, and the story is one of the best Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio has ever told. It starts out as a pretty typical crime story, before opening up into a thrilling pharmaceutical conspiracy with massively high stakes.
When the story begins, a serial killer is loose in Kamurocho, brutally killing yakuza and cutting their eyes out. Yagami, an ex-lawyer, gets tangled up in the case when he agrees to defend a yakuza captain—an ill-tempered asshole called Hamura—who's suspected of killing a rival clan member using the same MO. But the deeper Yagami delves into the killings, the more he becomes aware of the fact that there might be more to the case than some random serial murders.
Judgment rules, and it sucks that you can only play it on a console. It's time for Sega to bring it to PC. More people deserve to play it, and Yakuza fans who don't own a console are missing out on one of the best games in the series (that isn't officially in the series.) And with the news that Yakuza is sticking with Like a Dragon's turn-based combat, the Judgment games might be the last bastion for Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio's traditional (and superior) real-time street brawls.